In Graduation Speech, Chiefs Player Harrison Butker Suggests Women Are More Excited to Have Babies Than Careers

Excuse us while we put this man in his place . . .

Jamie Squire / Getty Images
Jamie Squire / Getty Images

Fact checked by Sarah ScottFact checked by Sarah Scott

I love the month of May—it’s inspiring watching my friends post pictures of their children’s graduations (from preschool to college). And, I love a good celebrity commencement address, providing a little boost of enlightenment and encouragement—despite the fact that it’s been 25 years since I received my own college diploma (more on that in a minute).

Sadly, my inspirational “boost” was replaced with anger, disappointment, and rage upon learning that Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker told the graduating class of Benedictine College, a Catholic liberal arts school in Atchison, Kansas that one of the “most important” titles a woman can hold is, wait for it—homemaker. He also gave his two cents against abortion, Pride Month, and Covid-19 lockdown measures but I can only put this man in his place one hot-button issue at a time.

Oh and did I mention he quoted from a Taylor Swift song while criticizing Catholic priests for catering to their parishioners? (Swift, of course, is dating Butker's teammate Travis Kelce and as well all know is a career-driven woman.)

But the topic that really got my blood boiling was about the women in the audience.

He pointedly told the female graduates that women have had “the most diabolical lies” told to them, going on to say, “How many of you are sitting here now, about to cross this stage, and are thinking about all the promotions and titles you are going to get in your career? Some of you may go on to lead successful careers in the world...but I would venture to guess that the majority of you are most excited about your marriage and the children you will bring into this world.”

Swift Reaction to Controversial Comments

I’m sorry, but what did this man just say to women who just spent four years of their lives working towards a degree which would in turn hopefully lead to a career and life path of their choosing? Is he not so subtly suggesting that the women graduates just spent four very expensive years as a way to pass the time until their wedding and pregnancy announcements?

The NFL made sure to distance itself from Butker's comments saying he gave the speech "in his personal capacity" and "his views are not those of the NFL as an organization." Celebrities have also come out condemning Butker's comments including actor Bradley Whitford as well as rapper Flavor Flav.

I had to check to make sure the speech wasn’t a deleted scene from The Handmaid's Tale. Nope, it was actually a real-life, 2024 commencement address. I can’t speak for the young women in attendance but I have to imagine they expected their commencement speaker to empower them—not diminish them into baby-making machines.

Graduates Should Pave Their Own Paths

As I mentioned, I graduated college 25 years ago. I still vividly remember the goosebumps, tingles, and butterflies while waiting my turn to cross the stage, receive my diploma, and start my career. I began college with tunnel vision on a specific plan—major in journalism and graduate with a job in New York City. And guess what? I sold my car, packed whatever fit into a beaten-up soft trunk, and moved to New York City a mere four days after college graduation.

My wide-eyed, naive yet extremely motivated 21-year-old self got on that plane and never looked back. I had an apartment where my roommate needed to cross my bedroom to get to the bathroom and kitchen, a few job interviews and leads but no real prospects, very few friends, a tiny stash of cash, and no backup plan.

Boyfriend? What was that? Sure, I hope to emulate a little bit of Carrie Bradshaw and eventually nab the big career and fab apartment. But a Mr. Big was not on my bucket list. Maybe one day I’d find my Mr. Stability. And kids? Off my radar.

I wanted to make enough money in a career rooted in writing/pop culture to pay my rent—not daycare. I wanted the pride of seeing my byline while flipping through magazines at the checkout stand. I wasn’t ready to nurture anything but my career. So, I can assure Harrison Butker that during my own college commencement ceremony, I was not thinking about marriage or babies and was quite focused on what my first job would be like.

And here’s the thing (are you listening, Harrison Butker?):

I was scared to become a wife and mother because I didn’t think I would be any good at it. I could barely take care of myself. How could I take care of a baby and help that baby find themselves and place in the world? I was terrible at dating, always getting my heart broken or refusing to acknowledge it when the right guy was in front of me. A partner seemed like too much work when I was trying to find myself in a new city and new phase of my life.

While that unconditional support and excitement when I landed my first job at a magazine, wrote my first book, or started working in TV production would have been welcome, I didn’t find it necessary. My dreams began as a kid. I loved writing and wrote “bonus” chapters to my Sweet Valley High books. I found the strength within myself to spend a summer interning at Rolling Stone magazine, I mustered my own brand of chutzpah to network with intimidating editors and I alone manifested my career in media despite an overload of imposter syndrome fighting me every step of the way.

So when I met my husband a decade after starting my career, I was ready. When we had our daughter, I’d been working for over 16 years. I’m still kicking butt in my career as you can see from this here byline! Who knows what would’ve happened if I met my husband and got pregnant right after I graduated college? I’d love to think that it wouldn’t have deterred me from following my dreams.

Us mothers are excellent at multitasking and getting things done like the ninja-style superheroes that we’re known for being at any age or stage in life. My husband and I work together so we both can achieve new career goals and be there for our daughter. My husband never placed any expectations on me that having kids meant giving up any part of myself or my career. Perhaps I would’ve placed that expectation on myself had I had kids or a husband before I was ready.

And that’s what I want to say to the graduating class of 2024—find yourself and follow your passions first! Get married and have children whenever you’re ready—young, old, or never at all. You can have it all if you take the time to get to know yourself and your innermost desires FIRST!

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